State lawmakers push for tougher restrictions on texting, driving

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)-- Some Iowa state lawmakers are proposing a bill that would let law officers pull over drivers for texting while driving.

This would make that a primary offense, instead of a secondary offense. The change would allow officers to pull drivers over just for texting. Right now, there needs to be another offense, like speeding or running a stop sign.

State troopers say the number of texting while driving crashes is increasing each year.

"I think a lot of times people think they're bullet proof and it's not going to happen to them," State Trooper Bob Conrad said.

And drivers say they notice more people on their phones.

"I know it happens a lot," Tatum Little said.

"Some gal was on her phone and I had to honk my horn," Kurt Drew said.

Troopers say the secondary offense is a start, but it's not always enough.

"We don't give out enough of those fines and I don't think people realize they can get tickets for it and it can really add up," Conrad said.

Other states have debated and gone forward with a similar change, some have found it beneficial.

Up in Minnesota, where texting and driving is a primary offense, troopers issued nearly 6,000 citations last year

Here in Iowa, state troopers issued 157.

Many in Iowa welcome this possible change.

"I think they should be able to pull you over if they see you on your phone," Little said.

And law enforcement, like Conrad, say it'll could reduce traffic deaths on the roads.

"We take enough care to watch to see what people are doing. And when I can pull up next to someone in a marked squad car and they don't recognize it and they're still typing a way on their phones, I know they're not making a phone call and it would be nice to take care of that violation right away before it turns into a tragic fatality or an injury or a crash," Conrad said.

Right now, a texting and driving citation can range anywhere from $30 to $1,000. No word yet, if this possible legislation would up the fines and penalties.